Jets of purple water will be pouring from Letchworth’s town centre fountain today to celebrate the centenary of the town’s adult education centre The Settlement.

Doors to The Settlement in Nevells Road first opened on the weekend of May 8, 1920, but plans to mark this major milestone have now been postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pam Burn, chairman of The Settlement’s management committee, said: “During the past 100 years The Settlement has been the social and creative hub for thousands of people. Whilst we cannot celebrate our big anniversary as planned, we hope our spirit of endeavour, education and courage will endure until next year when we can do things properly.”

She added: “We are so grateful to North Herts District Council for agreeing to turn the fountain purple for us – the colour symbolises our creativity and I know many of our students and volunteers will be delighted at the thought.”

Social historian Kate Thompson has been commissioned by the management committee to write a book - Letchworth Settlement 1920–2020: A Century of Creative Learning - which will be published later this year. Using archive material, it explores the rich history of The Settlement through the decades, whose supporters have included playwright George Bernard Shaw.

Pam said: “There are some amazing stories and anecdotes we wanted to share and, as a charity surviving in a time of the COVID-19 crisis, we hope the revenue we earn from the book will give us a financial boost to help get us through a very difficult time.”

The Settlement’s origins in 1920 led them from temporary accommodation in its first five years to the purchase, in 1925, of the former Skittles Inn.

The principle of equality of access to education were the foundation stones on which The Settlement was built. Not just a place of learning, The Settlement has also been home to dozens of societies and clubs, including amateur dramatics group The Settlement Players.

Pam said: “The Settlement is such a special place whose success has depended upon a small number of enthusiastic and energetic part-time staff and bands of loyal volunteers who have selflessly given of their time to the benefit of others.”